How To Clean Furniture with Metal and Wood

Most homeowners and businesses have plenty of cleaning supplies for metal furniture and wood furniture. But what about those pieces of furniture that have elements of both? Many end and coffee tables have wooden tops and metal legs. Are wood soaps effective on metal surfaces? Don’t most metal cleaners damage the more porous wood surfaces, leading to discoloration and water spots? This article will lead owners of mixed metal and wood furniture in safely cleaning their furniture.

What Can Be Used to Clean Wood

Today, most wood furniture is stained with polyurethane. Although it is remarkably resistant to acids, the higher the acid or alkali, the more likely it is that a cleaner will harm the wood. Traditionally, oil-based cleaners like Murphy’s Oil Soap do well on wood. You can also make your own cleaners with olive oil. Use 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and vinegar, mixed with 2 cups of water for your own gentle wood cleaner. Do not use oil-based cleaners on metal.

Cleaners for Metal

With metals, a variety of detergents can be used, as long as they are diluted in enough water. As long as the surface is cleaned of excess water when finished, most solutions are safe on metal. Even so, if unsure, test the solution in an inconspicuous place first. Do avoid using abrasive cloths or cleaners on metal. Almost all detergents for metal are too strong for wood.

If one wants to make detergent, consider using white vinegar. Dilute a bit of white vinegar in hot water and scrub. This brings back shine to metal.

Cleaning Metal and Wood Together

For those cleaning a bit more forcefully, consider using vinegar and a soft-bristle brush. If diluted well enough, vinegar won’t corrode metal nor cut through the stain of wood finishes. However, it is still a good idea to test a vinegar solution in an unobtrusive spot before cleaning the entire piece of furniture. For spots that are tough to reach, use a soft, nylon brush.

The easiest way to harm metal and wood is by using too much water. Water left on wood causes light-colored water spots. Too much water left on metal furniture causes rust. Both of these issues can be avoided by using a microfiber rag and wringing it out well. Microfiber is far more absorbent than cotton rags and therefore does a better job at picking up water from surfaces. It also does well in cleaning gently. It picks up dust bits and dirt.

A Reminder

The most important thing to keep in mind when cleaning metal and wood furniture is to avoid using cleaners specifically made for metal on wood elements, and wood cleaners on metal elements. Most metal detergents are too strong for wood surfaces, even those with hardy polyurethane finishes. One of the only solutions safe for both materials is dish soap, as long as it’s diluted well. Microfiber cleans both materials especially well since excess water is a danger for both metal and wood.

Caring for solid wood furniture with metal elements is worth going the extra mile! But remember, a quick, weekly cleaning with gentle soaps is the best way to go about it.


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